How To Stop Your Legs  From Sinking

The  Ultimate Guide To Balance & Alignment In Freestyle Swimming

Fixing Your Sinking Leg Problems

Root Cause No 1: 

Holding Your Head Too High 

Imagine your body as a seesaw or teeter-totter. One end of the line runs through the crown of your head, then down your spine and finally out between your legs. If you lift your head up, that end of the see-saw rises and the other end (your legs) drop. 

You can feel this see-saw effect right now with a little experiment. Lay down on your belly with your forehead resting on the floor. Keep your hands at your side. Now lift your forehead up off the floor and feel how your hips push down into the floor. 

The exact same thing happens in the water. If you try the Balance Drill you’ll feel how lifting your head to take a breath causes your hips and legs to drop. Clearly showing you the effect that lifting your head has on your hips and legs. 

If you hold your head too high, your hips and legs will sink. 

Why It Happens

As a human, the responsibility for your survival lies with the primitive part of your brain *1


The operation of this part of your brain is mostly out of your conscious control. Years of living as a land creature has ingrained an operating system that views the water as a threat. Holding your face underwater is simply not normal!

When you lower your face and ears into the water, your primitive brain recognizes a threat. So it sends out signals to let you know that you can’t breathe in water! “Dude, this is not a place you can live! You should 100% get out of here!”

Keeping your face submerged is NOT natural! The natural response is to lift your head up out of the water! 

If you were to relax your head and neck into the water you would be going against your natural survival instinct. 

This is  the most common reason new swimmers hold their head too high. The higher you hold your head, the easier it is to quieten the very nervous, primitive brain. To the primitive, survival brain, the closer you are to the surface of the water, the closer you are to safety. 

*1 – http://www.mindspring.com/~divegeek/primitive.htm

How To Fix It 

Relax your head, neck and shoulders! 

To do that  you’ll have to rewire your primitive thoughts. This rewiring comes through building a better association & relationship with the water. Learning that the water can be a safe place. This is a process and for some people it takes a fair amount of time. 

To start building a better association with the water, I recommend you play in it. Play games with your children or your friends. Go to the water park, play around in the splash pool; have some fun. As you enjoy your time in  the water your fear response will begin to subside. You will find it easier to relax your head and neck into the right position. 

Breathing bobs will also help to ease your fear and get you more relaxed and comfortable. As you do the bobs, be very intentional about quickly inhaling and then slowly exhaling. Control the flow of your breath as much as you can. Really focus on the quick air in and long air out. When you are intentional about your breath it tells your primitive brain it can relax. “Dude, you’re going to be ok.”  

 

 

 

Finally, doing the Balance drill with a kick board will help you to relax your head into a good position. Doing the balance drill with a kickboard is a great introduction to holding your head in a great position. It makes holding your line and relaxing your head much easier with the support of the kick board. 

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